First flu cases of season reported in Minn.

9:53 PM, Oct 13, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PAUL, Minn. -- State health officials say Minnesota has recorded its first two cases of laboratory-confirmed influenza of the season.

The Minnesota Department of Health says a 25-year-old women from Olmsted County has influenza caused by the A (H3) strain of the virus.  Also, a 12-year-old child from Hennepin County has influenza caused by a B strain of the virus. 

Neither patient has been hospitalized and the A (H3) strain was not swine-related according to health officials.

The official monitoring period for the 2012-13 influenza season started on October 1st.

In Minnesota, hundreds of people are hospitalized each year due to complications from influenza.  Influenza activity usually peaks in February.

Kris Ehresmann, the department's infectious disease director, says these first cases show that the seasonal flu is beginning to circulate in the community.

Health officials recommend annual influenza vaccinations for everyone six months and older unless they cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons.  Ehresmann says ample vaccine is available this year.

Besides getting vaccinated, officials say there are steps people can take to avoid spreading or catching influenza:

--Do your best to stay healthy.  Get plenty of rest, physical activity and healthy eating

--Stay home from school or work if you have a respiratory infection.  Avoid exposing yourself to others who are sick with flu-like illness

--Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue whenever you cough or sneeze, then throw the tissue away.  If you don't have a tissue, cough or sneeze into your sleeve

--Clean surfaces you touch frequently, such as doorknobs, water faucets, refrigerator handles adn telephones

--Wash your hands often with soap and water or with an alcohol-based hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available

(Copyright 2012 by KARE and The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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